Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) has lost R25-million in retail revenue from duty-free shopping because of sluggish passport control and a shortage of staff.

At the Standing Committee on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture this week, Western Cape spokesperson for Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture and a Member of Parliament, Beverley Schäfer, said that the average waiting time for inbound international passengers at passport control at CTIA currently sits at 27 minutes and 38 seconds, far above the international best practice average of 10 minute.

Schäfer continued to explain that these delays are caused by the reduced numbers of immigration officers employed at CTIA, coming down from 82 to 68. CTIA has also seen an increase in inbound flights by 750 000 since 2015. She confirmed that the Home Affairs’ passport control delays are causing an overall loss of R25-million in duty-free shopping.

Schäfer also stated that during peak hours, the Department of Home Affairs opens only five counters out of the available 18 to process, on average, 35 000 passengers per day, causing a bottleneck at passport control which causes delays for passengers and cripples airport activity.

Schäfer also expressed concern that the neglect of the airport’s duty-free shopping experience is largely affecting economic activity and threatening thousands of jobs in the Western Cape. She said she will shortly be addressing the diminishing numbers of Home Affairs officials employed at the CTIA with the Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities, Tourism, and Agriculture, Alan Winde.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has promised to raise concerns with the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) regarding the number of immigration officials employed.

The official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for the Western Cape and its capital Cape Town, Wesgro, has also joined the conversation stating that CTIA experienced a 20% growth in international terminal passengers, succeeding the world average of 8%.

The current growth of the Cape Town International Airport is expected to secure more than 150 000 international inbound seats from three new flight routes in 2018 alone. The delays and dwindling numbers of Home Affairs officials are expected to greatly affect this growth and threaten thousands of employees within the tourism and retail sectors as well as discourage the return of international visitors to the Mother City.

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